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Our Team

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Zoar Outdoor was established in 1989 to offer outdoor adventures in the Deerfield River Valley and beyond. Our staff of over 100 consists of friendly professionals from all walks of life ranging in age from 18 – 65 years.

Many of our staff are cross-trained in several areas, enabling them to work as a raft guide, kayak instructor or climbing teacher. It is not uncommon to find a high school math teacher, a nurse or a lawyer guiding one of our rafts or teaching in a kayak. The versatility of our team members allows our staff to provide excellent service to our guests and to make each Zoar Outdoor adventure truly memorable.

Janet Burnett Cowie – General Manager

Janet Burnett Cowie

General Manager

Janet Cowie has been part of the Zoar Outdoor team since 1996 and now holds the position of General Manager. As the leader of a values driven company, her focus is on building teams that nurture a growth mindset. She has been involved in all aspects of the business including overseeing logistics, retail, marketing and instruction programs. With her people skills and expertise, she has helped to grow the paddlesport program into one of the premier kayak programs in the country.

Janet started whitewater paddling in 1983 when she joined the University of Massachusetts Outing Club and rivers continue to be a main force in her life as they connect us to the natural world and to each other. She continues to be actively involved with the American Canoe Association and is a ACA Level 4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor Trainer Educator, Level 3 River Canoe Instructor Trainer and Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor. In 2011 Janet received ACA’s Excellence in Instruction Award. She helped to organize the first Whitewater Symposium at Zoar Outdoor in 2003 and again in 2009.  She received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts.

She lives in the hills of Franklin County and when not at work you can find her frolicking in the woods with her Border Collie who is too smart for his own good.

Jacqui Proctor – Director of Sales

Jacqui Proctor

Director of Sales

Jacqui comes from years of sales and marketing experience from working in the art world. She is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but quickly fell in love with Western Massachusetts. In her spare time, she loves creating artwork, strumming away on her Ukulele, playing outside. Jacqui also loves taking on the class III and IV rapids on our Dryway trip! Give our office a call, there’s a high percentage you’ll speak with Jacqui and she’s always up to help you plan your next adventure!

Grace Plunkett – Office Manager

Grace Plunkett

Office Manager

Grace has recently returned to New England from the NY Metro Area and is happy to be back in touch with her mountain roots! She brings years of experience in Customer Service and procedural management to the team. She strives to help our guests find the perfect adventure and is busy in the winter months preparing for the next season. Grace connects with organizations and guests to help bring them to the outdoors and build memorable experiences for all.

In her free time, Grace goes on nature adventures with her dog, plays guitar, and spends time with family. Chances are high that if you call the office you will get to chat with her!

Nate Marr – Director of Marketing

Nate Marr

Director of Marketing

Nate was introduced to Zoar Outdoor as a novice kayak student when he was fifteen years old.  His passion for the sport and love for the area led him to select a college in proximity to both.  He joined the Zoar team in 2000 as he entered his first year in college and had the opportunity to work closely with the company’s founding members.  During those early years, he learned invaluable lessons on how to create memorable experiences for guests in the outdoor industry and focused his studies on building upon those passions.
Upon completion of his coursework in marketing, communications, and finance, he went out to explore the world.  He lived briefly in New York, then Boston working in corporate finance for several years.  During one particularly frigid Boston winter he went on a tropical vacation where a once in a lifetime opportunity presented itself.  Six months later he traded his suit and tie for shorts and flip flops and ended up spending a decade as the Captain of a sailing charter in the Spanish Virgin Islands.
During those ten years he visited the Berkshires often and always hoped to return ‘home’ more frequently.  The pandemic was a bittersweet end to his time in the Caribbean and his return to Western Massachusetts and, ultimately, his return to Zoar.  After all those years he found himself to be part of Zoar’s leadership team, whose mission and vision remains in alignment with the original founders.
Nate also manages the marketing department for Berkshire East Mountain Resort, our sister company across the river.  Sometimes you can catch him paddling the Deerfield, trail running, or carving turns on the mountain.

Brian Pytko – Director of Rafting Programs

Brian Pytko

Director of Rafting Programs

A former high school social studies teacher and baseball coach, Brian started rafting with Zoar Outdoor back in 2000, and took over the Rafting Manager responsibilities in 2009. Forever a teacher at heart, Brian oversees new guide training and development, is an ACA swift water rescue instructor, and even does a little snowboard instructing during the off-season. Brian’s Wilderness First Responder Certification, intuitive river sense, dedication to customer service, and uncanny attention to detail ensures that Zoar’s rafting trips and guided kayaking trips run smoothly and safely.

Davis Britland – Rafting Manager

Davis Britland

Rafting Manager

Davis got his first taste of whitewater here at Zoar Outdoor back in 2017. He’s been here since, entertaining guests in both the trees and on the river. He’s rafted all over New England and is constantly looking for new rivers to explore. Whether it’s careening down a mountain on a snowboard in the winter months or peddling back up on a mountain bike when it’s warmer, you can usually find him enjoying the outdoors with his friends.

Jim Sullivan – Director of Paddlesports

Jim Sullivan

Director of Paddlesports

Jim has been paddling the rivers of New England since learning to kayak as a teen near Springfield, Massachusetts. He is an avid river runner, playboater and all-around paddler. He has run every rapid on the Dryway on a standup paddleboard (upright) at least once! He works closely with Amanda providing leadership in our Paddlesports programs.

Amanda Major – Paddlesports Manager

Amanda Major

Paddlesports Manager

Amanda joined the Zoar Outdoor team in 2017 as a whitewater kayaking instructor. From the moment she slid into the Deerfield River in a whitewater kayak with the Hampshire College outdoor program, she wanted to spend lots of time paddling and focusing on bringing more people into the sport.

During her time as an outdoor educator, Amanda has worn an assortment of hats—mindfulness outdoor leader, wilderness therapy guide, and instructor. Before her shift to the outdoors, she worked an officey job as a program coordinator for a national reproductive justice organization. She feels passionately about merging her love for the outdoors with her social justice values. Finding ways to make outdoor experiences accessible and inclusive for everyone makes her heart sing. She loves teaching wet exits and talking people through their mental game.

When she isn’t kayaking or supporting the Zoar Outdoor Paddlesports team, she enjoys mountain biking, spending quality time with lovely people, and trying to teach herself how to juggle.

Meghan Ecclesine – Zip Line Canopy Tour Manager

Meghan Ecclesine

Zip Line Canopy Tour Manager

Meghan first discovered Zoar in a guidebook before she moved from Michigan to Western Massachusetts to work as an Environmental Education and Trail Building Intern in a nearby state forest. Working nearby, she connected with Zoar and instantly wanted to be a part of the team. She joined the first crew of Zipline Guides in 2009 and has worn many hats at Zoar including Assistant Zipline Manager, Raft Guide, and starred in various Zoar YouTube videos!

Meghan has years of experience working in customer service and loves to help make your adventure fun and memorable.  In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, making art, canoeing, mountain biking, snowboarding and traveling. Swing by our Zip base; Meghan will be excited to meet you!

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Want to be a part of our team?